Dale Earnhardt Jr. has officially revealed where he will begin his NASCAR Xfinity Series career later in the 2021 season. He will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing with sponsorship from Mars Petcare.
This announcement comes less than a month after JR Motorsports announced that it would not be competing in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2020. With JRM out of the cup series, there was speculation that Dale Jr. might want to move over to the team's Xfinity Series squad. However, he has decided to remain in the #8 Chevrolet across both races of the season-long series.
"I'm really looking forward to returning to JGR and working with my new teammates in the NASCAR Xfinity Series," said Dale Jr. "It's an exciting time for me and my family as we prepare to make the transition into our new home in North Carolina."
He will be joined on the roster by Christopher Bell who drove the No. 19 car last year before moving up to the No. 88. Chris Buescher will return to the team for another season after winning four races last year. This will be Buescher's third season driving an Xfinity car after also running part-time in the Cup series in 2018 and 2019.
Despite implying that his NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Homestead-Miami Speedway last June was his final NASCAR appearance, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has since confirmed that he will return for another one-off appearance in 2021 behind the wheel of the # 8 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, the team he co-owns with Kevin Harvick. The announcement came just days after the death of his father Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Dale Jr.'s first season driving for JR Motorsports was a success, as he took home his first series championship while also finishing second in the point standings. He announced his return ahead of this year's season-opening Daytona 500 with plans to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet across the finish line at Homestead-Miami Speedway - where he will be racing against memories of his late father.
In addition to his work in NASCAR, Dale Jr. owns Dale Earnhardt Inc., which operates five teams in various forms of open-wheel racing including the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. His younger brother Kerry serves as president of DEI while his other siblings Kelley and Amy are members of the company's board of directors.
The family business was founded by their father in 1980 and became known for its powerful engines. Over the years, DEI has won seven drivers' championships (three by Dale Jr., four by his father) and six manufacturers' titles (tied with Ford for most).
Earnhardt Jr. told NBC Sports in October that he will return to the Xfinity Series for another race in 2021. He has won 24 Xfinity Series races in 142 races over the previous 24 years. He is the only driver to win races in both the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series.
Dale Jr.'s announcement came a month after Hendrick Motorsports announced that it would be reducing its schedule to just four races this year due to the coronavirus pandemic causing the cancellation of nearly all other events including the Daytona 500, the first race of the season. The organization also plans to reduce its schedule even further in 2021 with just three races.
This is not the first time Earnhardt Jr. has said he was going to retire from full-time racing at the end of the season. In 2018, he told ESPN that he was retiring at the end of the 2017 season after winning seven races that year. He returned for two more seasons before making his final appearance this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
In January 2019, Earnhardt Jr. told reporters at the Daytona 500 that he was "80 percent" sure that he would be leaving Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the season.
3:00 p.m. on May 4, 2021 Dale Earnhardt Jr. has returned to the track and competed in one second-tier Xfinity Series race every season for his own team, JR Motorsports, after retiring from full-time NASCAR racing in 2017. His first race back was at the spring Phoenix race where he started 21st and finished 19th.
He has won three times at Texas Motor Speedway and twice at Talladega Superspeedway. He is the only driver to win races in all three of NASCAR's top series (Xfinity, Cup, Truck).
Earnhardt is expected to compete in several more races before returning to the cockpit in May. He has not announced any plans beyond the next few races, but did state that he would like to continue driving into the fall season if possible.
His wife Amy and daughter Ella have been very supportive of him returning to racing. She has appeared in most of his commercials since he retired from full-time racing in 2017.
Dale Jr. has also been helping out with some engineering tasks while working with his father on his race cars during off-season months. The elder Earnhardt has two other sons who do not drive competitively funded cars. They are Mark, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Michael, who drives for Go Fas Racing.
In the refurbished Chevrolet Nova-NASCAR Jaski's Silly Season Site, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will lead the XFINITY field at Darlington. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has confirmed that he would lead the XFINITY Series field at Darlington Raceway in his father's refurbished Chevrolet Nova. The team also announced that they have hired Jason Keller to drive the car this weekend.
Darlington is a track that I really enjoy racing at. It has such a long history of great NASCAR races that it's easy for fans to get excited about when they hear their favorite driver will be competing there. Also, the fact that it's located in South Carolina gives us SC drivers an opportunity to see some of our drivers compete on some of our own turf before the season starts. Of course, with any track, you need good weather conditions for optimal viewing experiences so if it rains too hard or freezes up too much we might not be able to watch as many races.
But anyway, back to Dale Jr. He's been very open about his desire to one day run his own team and win the championship himself. This year, he's teamed up with Hendrick Motorsports to help them win races and capture the series title. By doing this, he's being given the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business and hopefully someday be able to call himself a champion. For now, he's just happy to be driving the #88 Chevy again.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has returned to the track and competed in one second-tier Xfinity Series race every season for his own team, JR Motorsports, after retiring from full-time NASCAR racing in 2017. He will continue to compete in select events with the goal of earning a spot on the starting grid at next year's Daytona 500.
Earnhardt is one of only three drivers to win the first four races of a season (the others being Jimmie Johnson and Bill Elliott). He won his first race back in February when he was involved in a crash during a practice run for the All-Star Race that killed two people and injured 14 others. The incident took place just a few miles away from where I live in South Carolina.
Even though he is not driving in all races like he used to, Earnhardt remains one of the most popular drivers among fans and teammates. His statistics are also impressive - he has six championships, nine victories at Walt Disney World Speedway and five consecutive seasons with at least one top-five finish.
In addition to competing in NASCAR races, Earnhardt has owned or co-owned teams that have won seven championships in various other sports including the NFL, NHL and NBA.